Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage has to be my all time favourite fall pasta. It has everything; carbs, sausage, onions, sage, cream and pumpkin - a rather unexpected flavour combination! The ingredients might actually be a little off-putting to some but I promise that when these ingredients meld, they combine to form the perfect fall comfort food. Even more surprising than the ingredients is the source of the recipe: the much reviled/loved Rachael Ray.
Now I know reactions to 'Rach' are polarized, but I got to hand it to her. My interest in cooking stems from watching her show nearly ten years ago. I owe her for that (grating voice aside). The food I cook today is a direct result of 30 Minute Meals. I will not lie, I was a terrible cook when I first moved out on my own. I didn't know any better. Cooking was not a beloved activity in my family so I didn't have much to go on. They employed more of a 'eating for sustenance' philosophy. The things I tried to put together and call a 'meal' were absolutely cringe-worthy. Luckily I discovered 30 Minute Meals when I was in my early twenties, sparing me from decades of dry over cooked pork chops and Lipton side dishes. Phew!!
Rachael Ray's show made me realize that cooking was accessible and that I could try ingredients that I was unfamiliar with. I can still remember how excited I was the first time I made sea scallops. I can't even begin to describe the self satisfaction that came with making five-spice duck breasts! Fresh ingredients and simple recipes - great building blocks for a budding home cook. Not to mention learning how to pair ingredients/flavours; until 30 Minute Meals I had no idea what flavours went well together. How amazing is it to be able to whip up a salad dressing without glancing at a recipe, thanks to a better understanding of fats/acids? Joy!I eventually discovered other inspiring chefs/cooks like Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Barefoot Contessa and Giada DiLaurentiis, which lead me to move on to more intermediate and advanced recipes/techniques but I still have a handful of Rachael Ray staples that will stay in my arsenal of recipes. This is the reason why I come to her defense when people jump on the "Rachael Ray Sucks" bandwagon. Anthony Bourdain can suck it; I don't see him inspiring slews of home cooks.
Without further ado, I give you Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage from 30 Minute Meals. I always make the recipe exactly as written with the following side note: use lots and lots of fresh sage. It makes the recipe sing. The last time I made the recipe I had only a small amount of sage, about 8 leaves or so. I realized afterwards that she wrote 'sprigs', not leaves. I lamented my error tremendously.